River City Marketplace: A Boom in North Jacksonville

While the booming Southside continues to receive most local media coverage, North Jacksonville has a rapidly growing commercial epicenter of its own. Today, Metro Jacksonville explores River City Marketplace and additional development underway around the popular shopping destination.

Published April 1, 2014 in Neighborhoods - MetroJacksonville.com

River City Marketplace

Site Plan of River City Marketplace

According the developer, Ramco-Gershenson Properties, River City Marketplace is strategically located at the interchange of I-95 and Airport Road, just north of I-295 and is the largest shopping complex in the north Jacksonville market.

The shopping center opened in 2006 and today features twelve national anchor tenants and encompasses approximately 900,000 square feet, including anchor-owned space.

River City Marketplace is located at the first commercial exit along I-95 as people enter Florida from Georgia, benefitting from the heavy tourism between the two states.

For more infomation: http://www.rgpt.com/rivercity/

City Center Boulevard serves as the main centralized throughfare through the River City Marketplace property. Large anchors such as Walmart (203,091 square feet), Lowe's (117,000 square feet) and Gander Mountain (100,636 square feet). City Center Boulevard is known to back up with traffic exiting River City Marketplace. Many drivers don't realize that City Square Drive, which fronts Walmart and Lowe's, also exits the property with a signalized intersection at Airport Center Drive.

The majority of River City Marketplace's big box anchors are located west of City Center Boulevard and east of City Station Drive. Retailers situated in the section of the development include Ross Dress for Less, Michael's, Bed Bath & Beyond, Old Navy, PetSmart, Best Buy and Wallace Theater.

City Station Drive is a close as it gets to a thoroughfare at River City Marketplace designed to be "walkable." Home to several sit-down resturants, many feature entrances and outdoor dining along the roadway.

Multifamily Residential at River City Marketplace

River City Marketplace also includes 552 multifamily apartment units. Located behind Walmart and Lowe's, A.G. Spanos Companies built the 276-unit Mirador at River City in 2007. Two years later, A.G. Spanos Companies added the 276-unit Stovall at River City next door. In 2012, both properties were sold to Atlanta-based Cortland Partners for $26.3 million, or $95,275 per unit.

Parkway Shops

With the development of River City Marketplace considered a success, Ramco-Gershenson's latest development in Jacksonville is literally across the street. According to Ramco-Gershenson, Parkway Shops is being developed adjacent to the Company's highly successful 900,000 square foot River City Marketplace at the Airport Road/Max Leggett Parkway exit off of I-95.

Phase 1 of Parkway Shops consists of approximately 90,000 square feet and is anchored by Dick's Sporting Goods, Marshalls, and ULTA Beauty. Phase 1 opened in April 2013. Other phases of the development will be considered in response to retailer demand. Phase two consists of a 24 acre parcel and there is a 2.75 acre parcel available on Owens Road. It is anticipated that at full build-out, Parkway Shops Phase 2 will encompass approximately 260,000 square feet and will feature a number of the country's most popular retail and restaurant destinations.

For more infomation: http://www.rgpt.com/newdevelopments/parkway/index.html

Mellow Mushroom under construction at the Max Leggett Parkway entrance to Parkway Shops.

Airport Center Drive

As a part of the construction of River City Marketplace, the City of Jacksonville built Airport Center Drive, connecting Airport Road and Interstate 95 with the entrance of River City Marketplace and Main Street (US 17). Since the opening of River City Marketplace, Airport Center Drive has been extended east of Main Street to New Berlin Road.

Like Town Center Parkway, its counterpart on Jacksonville's Southside, Airport Center Drive is now filled with a mix of commercial uses. However, unlike Town Center Parkway, Nautica Drive and Skymarks Drive were built to parallel Airport Center Drive to the south and north. Adjacent restaurants and retail along the corridor also have parking lots that are connected to one another, enabling better traffic movement on Airport Center Drive.

Max Leggett Parkway

In 2012, Duval Road, formerly a rural two lane roadway, was renamed after Max Leggett. Leggett who died in 2009, was a former Jacksonville City Council member and Northside civic activist. The four-lane Max Leggett Parkway connects Airport Road, Airport Center Drive, and River City Marketplace with Duval Station Road. With Airport Center Drive nearly built out, Parkway Shops and UF Health Jacksonville as anchors, Max Leggett Parkway will become the area's next booming commercial corridor.

UF Health Jacksonville  North

Formerly known as Shands Jacksonville, UF Health Jacksonville is constructing a new medical facility just north of River City Marketplace and Airport Center Drive. According to their website, UF Health Jacksonville North will be a state?of?the?art, six-story medical office building located at the northeast corner of Interstate 95 and Max Leggett Parkway. The full-service outpatient facility will include an emergency department, obstetrics, general surgery and ancillary services such as state-of-the-art imaging, laboratory and outpatient rehabilitation. Completion is set for early 2015.

In addition, a 92-bed hospital has been preliminarily approved for construction on the UF Health Jacksonville North campus by the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration.

The population of north Jacksonville has grown by 30 percent from 2000 to 2013, more than double the growth rate observed in the rest of Duval and Nassau counties. As the population continues to rise, so does the need for a hospital to serve this growing area. UF Health Jacksonville North will provide greater access to more healthcare services for these residents, as well as those living in surrounding communities.

For more information: http://north.ufhealthjax.org/

Commuter Rail

River City Marketplace and associated development in the area are adjacent to the First Coast Railroad's rail line paralleling Main Street. This corridor is being considered to be served by commuter rail service connecting Nassau County with Jacksonville's Urban Core and Downtown, via the S-Line. If this project becomes reality, urban core residents will be a short reliable mass transit ride away from North Jacksonville's hottest area for commercial development.

Article and photographs by Ennis Davis, AICP. Contact Ennis at edavis@moderncities.com

This article can be found at: https://www.metrojacksonville.com/article/2014-apr-river-city-marketplace-a-boom-in-north-jacksonville

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